Locals who are once again opposing the Iron Gates development in Evans Head presented Richmond Valley Council (RVC) Mayor Robert Mustow with a petition of 304 signatures against the proposal last Tuesday.
Lyndall Murray, founder of stopirongates.org and traditional owner Teela Barker presented the petition that raises the concern of people in the Northern Rivers area about the proposed development. The presentation took place just before the regular Council meeting on Tuesday, November 19.
‘I am a lucky person who has recently moved to Evans Head and purchased my first home here,’ Lyndall said. ‘I want other people of my generation, and future generations to have similar opportunities. That should not be at the cost of the destruction of fragile ecosystems, our beautiful river and important Aboriginal heritage. There are better ways for Evans Head to grow than plonking high-density development on the riverbank.’
Mayor Mustow accepted the petition and assured those present that it would be included in the consideration process. The Mayor explained Council’s obligations to accept and consider any landholders development application (DA). Council officers will be supporting an independent town planning consultant who will be leading the DA assessment process so a comprehensive report can be prepared for the Northern Region Planning Panel (NRPP) who will be deciding the outcome of the DA.
DA approval previously removed
The Iron Gates site was proposed for development over 20 years ago, however, the DA approval was removed by the Land and Environment Court in 1997 due to the serious breaches of the DA that the developer had undertaken.
Ian Rankin, from the campaign to Stop Iron Gates, welcomed the Mayor’s assurances of good practice.
‘This development idea has a long, complex and embattled history.’ Ian said. ‘Using the best possible process and avoiding perceptions of conflicts of interest, now will make for a fairer and more robust outcome. Last time this development was attempted it generated a large amount of litigation, all the way to the High Court of Australia. Good, open, transparent processes now, will save a lot of time and legal contests in future.’
Simone Barker, daughter of Lawrence Wilson, provided the Councillors an update from her perspective as Custodian of the land in question. She urged culturally appropriate consultation and pointed out it is her job as Custodian to protect the land, the water and the sacred sites in this area.